Posted by: Edzard Ernst21 September 2012
Have you heard about chirokinetic therapy (CKT) yet? If not, you need to know about this new alternative therapy which is currently being promoted in the UK and elsewhere. Sooner or later, one of your patients is going to ask you about it.
The list of conditions that CKT ‘could be helpful for’ is impressive even by the standards of alternative medicine:
|Abdominal Pain||Eating Disorders||Migraine|
|Addictions||Emotional Issues||Mood Swings|
|Anorexia||Fears and phobias||Palpitations|
|Arthritis||Food Intolerance||Sinus Problems|
|Colitis||Immune System||Weight Gain|
|Ear, Nose and Throat||ME|
But what is CKT? Here is how one proponent describes this new cure: ‘The treatment works by communicating with your body using muscle testing to locate underlying imbalances in the body, mind or spirit. The treatment itself is a gentle hand movement by the CKT therapist usually applied to the head. This results in the body beginning to send energy into the areas that it has acknowledged are weak.’
It seems that CKT combines elements of kinesiology with a form of manual therapy. This sounds intriguing.
Elsewhere we learn that CKT ‘identifies allergies and problem areas in the body via muscle testing techniques. Patients are asked to lie still with their right arm against the body. The therapist tries to pull the arm away from the patient’s side and the patient is asked to try to resist the pull. At the same time they are asked to touch specific parts of their own bodies with the other hand, or hold small bottles of substances which they might be allergic to, such as wheat, milk, fruit, etc.
‘The therapist can tell where the weaknesses lie, based on whether or not the arm resists the pressure. For instance, if someone is allergic to dairy products the muscle in the arm will react weakly when holding a small phial of milk in the hand.
‘CKT operates on the premise that, as the body is specifically designed to control the internal environment and not fall prey to chronic disease, there are one or more factors interrupting this design feature – this is considered to be the “Prime Cause”…’ 2
Now I am sufficiently interested to conduct a quick Medline search. The result is depressing: not a single study of CKT seems to be available, not even some observational data, nothing. And why should all this be important?
It probably is not - except maybe for the fact that treatments such as CKT seem to emerge every other month. Proponents then make claims about the therapy’s capacity to treat conditions, and some people support them by proclaiming that the absence of evidence is no evidence of the absence of an effect.
I ask myself, when will alternative medical practitioners learn that we need sound evidence before we can reasonably make therapeutic claims?
Professor Edzard Ernst is the emeritus professor of complementary medicine at the Peninsula Medical School, University of Exeter